Men's College Basketball
Rider University 61, Niagara University 50
LAWRENCEVILLE- Roses are red, Violets are blue. Victory is sweet, When it's in the Broncs' Zoo!
On the eve of Valentine's Day, the Rider Broncs showed little love for visiting Niagara, defeating the Purple Eagles for the fourth straight time.
"We got a win that we needed to get," said Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey.
Junior Brandon Penn (Philadelphia, Pa./Paul Robeson) scored 12 points off the bench and senior Justin Robinson (London, England/Blair Academy) added 11 to lead Rider to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory Sunday afternoon.
"Brandon came in off the bench and played really well," Dempsey said, "considering he didn't play Friday."
Penn did not dress for Friday's loss to Canisius due to an ankle injury. "Originally I wasn't going to return to practice until Monday," said Penn, who played just 17 minutes Sunday but made three of four three-pointers, "but the x-rays were negative so I practiced yesterday and it felt pretty good."
"I went back and forth on it and I'm glad I played him today," Dempsey said. "I probably could have played him Friday if it was a tournament game. As a coach I have to have a 'big picture' plan."
"Watching from the bench I saw some open spots so when I went in I tried to pick my spots and fortunately I made some shots."
The victory puts Rider (18-9, 10-5 MAAC) back into a tie for second place with Saint Peter's, who lost to first place Fairfield in overtime Sunday.
Holding a 51-41 lead, Rider went on a 10-2 run, four points by senior Mike Ringgold (Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic), to take a 61-43 lead with 1:53 left to play. Ringgold finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
The Broncs have now won 12 of their last 16 games. Rider and Niagara have now met 33 times, with Rider winning 14.
Holding a 35-34 lead, Rider went on an 11-2 run, six points by Penn, to take a 46-36 lead with 7:40 left to play.
Trailing 32-25, Niagara went on a 7-0 run, four points by Marvin Jordan, to tie the score with 14:20 left to play. Jordan finished with eight points.
Kashief Edwards led Niagara (6-21, 3-12 MAAC) with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
Trailing 15-14, Rider out-scored Niagara 14-6, four points by Ringgold, and Rider led 28-23 at the half.
Rider jumped out to a 14-6 lead, five points by junior Novar Gadson (Philadelphia, Pa./John Bartram). Gadson finished with seven points and 10 rebounds.
With the victory, Rider seniors Mike Ringgold and Justin Robinson and graduate student Patrick Mansell (Cheltenham, Pa./Cheltenham) have won 77 games in their careers, tying the Rider record for wins in a four-year period set in 1993-96. "It's been a good run," Dempsey said. "We're the only MAAC team to clinch five straight winning seasons."
Mansell made a pair of three-point field goals and finished with six points. "Pat's a veteran who has been through these wars before," Dempsey said. "He's made big shots in his career and I expect he'll find a way to help us win another game or two before this is all said and done. He's a big part of the senior class that is going to leave here as a really special class."
Freshman Danny Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti) added eight points and nine rebounds. Stewart has compiled 73 points (12.1) and 52 rebounds (8.7) in his last six games.
Sophomore Jonathon Thompson (Orlando, Fla./Jones) added six points, five rebounds, five assists and just one turnover. Thompson ranks seventh in the nation in assist-turnover ratio. "The coaches have told us we are going to have close games late in the season," Thompson said, "but as long as we win, that's what we're looking for."
Rider travels to Baltimore Wednesday to take on Loyola. "We have a big game Wednesday," Dempsey said.